29 May 2011

Doctor Who - The Almost People

This is definitely spoilery. I would advise watching the episode before reading this.

Last week's cliffhanger reveal was that the Doctor had his own Ganger, as the Humans and Gangers prepared for conflict.
This episode starts with the newly-formed Doctor-double spouting a confusion of old Who catchphrases, including a bit with Tom Baker's voice. That was a nice, fun touch. The scene quickly turns into an insane double act as the Doctors finish each others sentences and enjoy listening to their own thoughts. They are perhaps a bit too pleased with themselves, but it is very funny.
It's clear there is a greater connection, understanding and friendship between the Doctor and his ganger. Whether this is a Time Lord thing or whether it's because he's accepting of the Flesh doubles as exact copies isn't clear. Probably a bit of both as there does seem to be some kind of psychic feedback thing going on.

The other Gangers are understandably pissed off at their lot. Ganger-Jen is quite the rabble-rouser, declaring a Flesh uprising against the human oppressors. It seems that she has a stronger connection to the original Flesh than the others, carrying memories of previous deaths, which may explain how different she is to Human-Jen. While one can understand her sentiments here (especially after seeing the discarded Flesh pile she shows Rory) her methods are violent and she is the most devious and monstery character. Ganger-Cleaves is far more pragmatic, much like the original.
The Gangers keep switching from sympathetic to antagonistic, but I think what we are seeing now is their individual positions rather than having them act as a group. How very human.

Amy's attitude to the Doctor-double is one of suspicion and uncertainty, despite the Doctor's happy acceptance of him. Admittedly there are times when the Doctor-double acts a little more erratically, however it seems that could be part of his connection to the Flesh. The only visible difference is the shoes, but the audience can't see their feet, and as is proved towards the end of the episode shoes can be changed.

Rory's compassion is used as part of Ganger-Jen's schemes. I'm not quite sure why there was yet another Flesh double of Jen, or where she came from? It's clear that Ganger-Jen is more advanced in her abilities than the others (another thing that becomes monstery), but without knowing the rules I guess I can't really judge the limitations.

The humanity of the Gangers is proven in a holo-call to Jimmy's son.
The emphasis is on the similarities of the doubles. Cleaves can't conceal a password from her Ganger because they have the same mind. Ganger-Jimmy sees his son, excited on his fifth birthday, and realises he can't kill the lad's biological father.
Then we get rounds of heroism. Ganger-Jimmy saves the humans, but can't save Human-Jimmy, so that the Ganger must permanently take the place of the original . Later, in a nice reversal, a human sacrifices himself to save his Ganger. Then more Gangers sacrifice themselves to allow the others to get away, even though I'm not sure that was strictly necessary.

So despite several deaths most characters get away in one form or another.
It is proved that even close friends cannot identify the difference between Flesh and original.
A trip in the TARDIS makes the remaining Gangers human, gives Cleaves a cure for her brain clot, and allows a cowardly lion to find his courage... oh no, wait -that was something else.

Then it all gets weird.
The Doctor keeps telling Amy to breathe, and what did the Doctor-double mean about pushing? I feel eye-patch lady's involvement here. These are instructions that are only generally given in certain circumstances. Amy is giving birth, to a baby that doesn't seem to be there.
Turns out the Doctor was actively investigating the Flesh, and perhaps had more of a hand in the creation of his double than it seemed.
The Doctor echoes Rory's words from the 'Day of the Moon', declaring that he and Rory will never stop searching for her.
The shocking conclusion sees Amy turned into pancake batter as the Doctor disrupts the signal to the Flesh.
She wakes to see a familiar hatch with a familiar face. She is pregnant and in a birthing tube, and it turns out that's where she's been all along.

Bloody hell!

This was an exciting and well-executed episode, that only benefited from the double dose of Matt Smith. The twists pretty much all made sense, and the exploration of morality didn't have the simplicity or tweeness that Doctor Who can sometimes indulge in. Plus there are finally answers! I can't wait for the next episode!

  • Who's got the Screwdriver?
It's revealed that the two Doctors swapped shoes, and therefore identity. But we don't know when. What's odd is that both of them seemed to have screwdrivers, even though they hand it back and forth as though there's only one. Surely the Flesh can't duplicate a sonic screwdriver? Or is it a continuity error?

  • Death Becomes Him
The Doctor-double sacrifices himself, although the Doctor hints that it might not be truly the end. Amy already identified the potential of having a second Doctor, could he be the one who's killed in the US? (My husband reckons not as the murdered Doctor started to regenerate. We're presuming Flesh can't do that.) She also let slip some details about the invitations to the Doctor's final moments. At the time it seems that's she's saying it to the Doctor-double, but at the end it's clear that the Doctor knows something about it where the double doesn't.

There are still plenty of questions, but some answers are in sight.

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